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Here's how to stay safe when driving in ice and snow

Safe driving in ice and snow may be difficult, but it is possible. There are specific steps you can take to lower the odds that you get into an accident. Nothing guarantees you'll never crash, of course, but that's true all year around. You do not have to fear winter driving if you simply take the time to understand how it is different and how you can approach it.

Watch out for shade

The first thing experts note is that you must be able to read the terrain in front of your car. Don't wait until you encounter an obstacle to react to it. One way to do this is to look for shade. It's cooler there, and a wet road may ice over at that specific spot. One place this often happens is when you drive under an overpass.

Adjust your speed to the conditions

A critical step to safe winter driving is to avoid speeding, but you may need to take it farther than just not breaking the speed limit. You sometimes have to adjust for the conditions, even when that means going under the limit. Remember that even slight curves and turns can become impossible on slick roads, if you're moving too fast.

Do not turn, brake or accelerate at the same time

You want to separate your car's three basic functions -- turning, slowing down and speeding up -- so that you never do more than one of those three at the same time. This means braking before a turn, for example, so that you are going slow enough by the time you turn -- not braking as you go around the corner. Doing this gives you the best possible traction, even on icy or snowy roads.

Keep your distance

Stay as far as you can from other cars, especially when they are large trucks that may throw up snow as they drive. When traffic moves smoothly, it's easy to feel like you can stay pretty close to the next vehicle, but you will suddenly realize you don't have enough space if you need to stop.

Watch out for slush

The most dangerous parts of the road are often the shoulders or the middle, between the tire tracks. These areas can get packed with slush. You can lose control when trying to change lanes or pass. Carefully consider exactly what type of terrain you'll drive across before you do it, not while you do it.

After an accident

You can only do so much to stay safe with winter driving. Other drivers still make mistakes and they cause accidents. If you get injured in one this year, make sure you understand all of your rights to compensation.

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